"...each one’s work will be revealed; for the Day will declare it, because it will be disclosed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is." (1Co3:13)
"...the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil, unto the resurrection of judgment." (Jn5:28-29)
We address these around here on a regular basis. Just because they say "Lord, Lord" doesn't mean they know the Lord. Just because they call themselves [c]hurch, doesn't mean they are the [C]hurch of Jesus Christ. And we speak of their judgment regularly. They are headed on the "broad way" to "destruction" (Mt7:13) into the Lake of Fire, because their names are not found in the Book of Life. (Rev20:15) The Lord will be saying to them in that day: "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work out lawlessness!" (Mt7:23)
But what about True Believers? A subscriber recently queried with the following:
But the query is made about this topic as it relates "ONLY TO BELIEVERS". In this article we will not be addressing Eternal Security, Once Saved-Always Saved, Wolves in Sheep clothing, those who put their hand on the plow and then look back and draw back (Lk9:62, Heb10:39), etc. Let's take a look at the topic, as asked. What about those who, when all is said and done, -get- to Heaven; they are not those ending up in the Lake of Fire. Thus: if you do not know the Lord, this article is not for you this month. But if you have truly repented towards God (Ac20:21), received Jesus as Savior, and are a child of God (Jn1:12): This article is for you.
In recent months I've expressed a couple of times how Salvation is a free gift (Eph2:8-9); but the Christian Life is -NOT- a FREE RIDE.
Now... just as surely as we get into a topic like this, and start getting into various Scripture passages, invariably there is going to be someone who will respond (as some do on occasion), "I was disappointed that you didn't quote -this- Book:ch:vs" What we talk about here is what the Bible's secondary theme is all about. The Bible's primary theme is Jesus Christ and how He provides Salvation to sinful man. A secondary theme is how Believers live faithfully, or not so perfectly, and their resultant rewards or judgments. So, if you think we didn't mention -all- the various passages we -might- have (along with your favorite one)... well...just READ THE BIBLE. It's in there. As Paul says about the OT record regarding Israel,
Notice with Jesus' words that the righteous are "resurrected to life", with no mention of judgment; whereas the wicked are resurrected to "judgment". "Resurrection to life" doesn't sound to me like "judgment"
We also know that the Lamb is having a "marriage supper". (Re19:9) Who is married to the Lamb? Is that not the Church; Believers; as Paul speaks of "Christ and the Church" (Eph5) A marriage supper is not a time of "judgment" for the bride, but of celebration.
There are some who suggest that the Judgment Seat of Christ happens just as the Church has been resurrected and raptured to Heaven. But that then begins the time were Christ is judging the world during the 70th week, Armageddon, etc., where God is dealing with Israel. Why would He be passing judgment on those whom He has just "received unto [Himself]" (Jn14:3) That is a time of anticipation, not feared judgment.
There is one verse that says,
Paul was looking forward to being "at home with the Lord" (2Co5:8); the same one who speaks of judgment; but himself having lived in "all good conscience" (Ac23:1) and that he had "kept the faith" and was expecting the "crown of righteousness" (2Ti4:7-8)
But Paul speaks of the "fire" that tests to see of what sort each one's "work" is. Is that a -literal- "fire", as today's apostasy speaks, by which they want to become "purified"? The Lake of Fire is for those not found in the Book of Life, and if our earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children, is God going to give His children the same judgment reserved for the ungodly?
Well...in the Christian life are we building with -literal- "gold, silver and precious stones" or "wood, hay straw"? (1Co3:12) Hopefully it is not -real- "gold", because that is merely the substance of 'pavement' in the New Jerusalem. (Re21:21) Is it not -figurative-! An example of how precious metals withstand fire, but flammables get consumed. Similar to how Jesus told the example of the "talents/minas", and based on how the servants did, they were rewarded with "cities/many things". (Lk19) and praise, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Mt25)
Paul reminds us,
Of what nature are these tests? A reading of Job chs 1-2 describes how God allowed satan access to test Job...on this earth.
But notice that what is called "judgment" was not everlasting punishment, but a "chastening" by the Lord. (vs32) As Scripture also says,
"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Pr22:6)
Now if we get that stubborn streak in our heads and refuse correction, and yet, like the prodigal son say, "give me the portion of the estate that belongs to me" (Lk15:12), and run off on our own; and perhaps the Lord needs to take us prematurely in death, we still are "saved, yet so as through fire" (1Co3:15)
In such a case a person's life is a total loss; but they ARE SAVED. But they have the demotion and regret of not receiving rewards.
But those who receive correction, and diligently follow the Lord with the whole heart, "he will receive a reward" (1Co3:14)
Even somebody like Paul the apostle had a little problem with pride.
But notice how, just as he exhorts the turning over of a wayward Believer to satan, for the destruction of the flesh; even God's gentle nudgings to keep Paul in line was a job given to satan. No, I don't understand it...why God would use Satan, His arch-enemy, to be involved in the correction of His own children and servants.
No, if we get arthritis, chronic blood pressure issues, or other ailments, those are not "crosses...that we must bear". First of all, any physical ailment is a result of sin, and is part of the death process, as promised by God: "You shall die the death" (Ge2:17) Thus, throughout life people will get sick; just because: We're people.
But also: Something many (so-called) "christians" fail to understand is that disease might be for a couple other reasons, too. Either in judgment for disobedience to God; or as with Paul, the little 'nudge' effect to keep us in line. In such cases, the infirmities are not the "cross" that we take up in following Jesus; but rather, are the 'consequences' because we were NOT following Him as we should, or because we have personal tendencies to wander off on our own, and it is God's way of keeping us in check.
No... Not health, wealth and prosperity... just because it was named and claimed. And that is also why most of those being "heeeeealed!!" at the popular meetings are not really healed...but some, when they go home and stop taking their medications...-die-. They are not following God, but their own sinful lusts.
Just a thought, here, on the other hand...
But that is all the activity of this physical life. But Paul says we "stand" before the Judgment Seat of Christ. That sounds like more than merely a lifetime of living, but of a specific event. Living life is called our "walk". But for this event we "stand". Now if Lazarus, in Abraham's bosom was said to be "comforted", perhaps this Judgment Seat happens just -as- we pass from this life into the next?
What happens at death? The psychic world claims to have out-of-body experiences with the White Light. Some claim to see previously departed loved ones in an idyllic setting, and when they return to their bodies are allegedly exhorted to proclaim "love" to the rest of humanity. A particular false prophet, some years ago, in his 'testimony', was alleged to have had an out-of-body experience during which he saw a "cross", "waving its arms", streaming "rays of love" towards the individual. Of course, that same prophet, claiming that the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords at the White House was fulfillment of Dan9:27, now that we are in 2008, and those prophecies have yet to be fulfilled, has been proven to be a false prophet.
When satan is finished testing Job, and God comes to address him, one of the questions God asks Job is:
For whom would the King of kings and Lord of lords stand? If Jesus Christ is "far above all the heavens" (Eph4:10), what would cause Him to rise to His feet? When one of His children was giving his life in martyrdom..?
I suspect Stephen did not "lose" his reward. (2Jn1:8) If it is the case that the Judgment Seat of Christ is at the moment of our physical death, as we pass through the "gates of death", in Stephen's case Jesus -stood- to receive him. The sign of deep respect.
If for some reason we don't continue till the Rapture, and we find ourselves passing through the Gates of Death, what will we see on the other side? Is our life such that Jesus might be standing to receive us? Or will our death be related to just deserts because of sinful activity, and we wake up on the other side, on our face in shame before a seated Christ, having -just- been stabbed or shot for evil behavior? So to speak: caught with our pants down?